Senior sex seems to be one of those topics that the media love to pick up every now and then, play with for a few minutes, and like the fickle folks they are, promptly forget about until a new book comes along, or an editor feels like the word "sex" hasn't appeared in paper enough that week. It's a fad for them.
But for any of us who live long enough, being a senior citizen and being sexual isn't a fad, it's a reality. Our sexuality doesn't stop or change because we are getting older. Our sexuality changes, but it does that throughout our lives.
The biggest change when it comes to aging and sex may not be how our body responds differently, or how we think and feel, it may be the way we are treated by everyone around us, and the ways our access to partners change as we get older.
It's hard not to sound glib about sex and aging bodies. The fact is that as we age we do have to learn to adapt to our changing bodies, it isn't all "embrace your inner wisdom" and "spend all that free time having sex". Although both of those sound pretty good if you can make it work.
The bottom line is that changing and adapting isn't necessarily easy but it is possible and can result in both great sex and greater self knowledge.
Changing Bodies and Aging
Thinking in a detailed way about the physical changes you experience as you age can be a good first step to getting creative about how the sex you have might be different.
One of the difficulties with this is that we tend to bombard seniors with a depressing list of 'have nots' for them to expect. This is a typical medical model about deficits; it's all about what you don't have. Here's an example of a list we found on a popular health website that details changes in your body you can expect:
- Sexual drive and urgency decrease
- Spontaneous erections cease to occur
- Direct stimulation becomes necessary
- Continual stimulation is often necessary
- Erections take longer to achieve
- The pre-ejaculate diminishes
- Erections are not as firm as they once were
- The angle of the erection changes
- Erections become unstable
- Firmness might wax and wane
- A longer period of stimulation is needed to ejaculate
- A closing window of opportunity to ejaculate
- Ejaculations can become elusive
- The volume and velocity of the ejaculate decreases
- Diminished experience of orgasm
- A longer time is needed to recover after ejaculation
Needless to say, when confronted with this information from sexual health educators and the medical profession, enthusiasm for experimenting may wane.
We want to propose a different model. Rather than starting with what has changed, start with where you are today. Create your own "sexual blueprint." This means mapping out how your body feels in response to sexual stimulation.
If you don't have a partner right now, be your own guide. Because many people need more stimulation as they get older, and natural lubrication often changes with age, you might find a vibrator and some good quality lubricant helpful for the journey.
Unfortunately, it's easy for all of us to get weighed down by the things we're told we can't do anymore. Whether it's because we're too old, too fat, too thin, the wrong height, the wrong look, most of us are actually kicked out of the "beautiful people" category at one point in our lives.
The great thing about sex is that giving yourself sexual pleasure, however it works for you, can give us the energy and motivation to continue dealing with all the negative messages that are thrown up as obstacles in our way.
Our Sexual Minds Getting Older
Sexuality isn't just what we do and how our bodies do it, sexuality is how we think and how we feel.
Just as our bodies change as we get older, and this can impact our sexuality, so to do our thoughts and feelings change with age. And these changes can also have an impact on our sexuality.
Changes can be a result of age and experience. They also may be a result of medications we take or organic changes, like dementia.
But our sexuality doesn't disappear with these changes. Even if you find yourself less interested in having sex or thinking about sex, it doesn't make you less of a sexual being.
Folks who experience these changes, for example, developing dementia or other significant cognitive changes, usually feel the negative impact in the way other people treat you:
If you have moved into a nursing home or any institutional setting, you probably have less privacy, and likely are treated as if you aren't sexual at all. If you're behaviour is erratic people tend to start treating you like a child, and therefore as if you have no sexuality at all. Because many of us spend years in relationships without talking, when a major change happens to one person in a couple, often the other withdraws sexually. There can also be huge sexual impacts for partners of people who experience dramatic changes in their thoughts and feelings. Partners may be unsure of how to interact with a spouse who suddently seems like a stranger. Often times partners worry about the ethics of having sex with their spouse if sometimes they seem "out of it".
There are no easy answers here. In many cases if you are receiving social support from an agency, they may be able to point you to someone you can talk to about sexual concerns. When in doubt, feel free to contact us and we can try to refer you to a service that is local to your area.
Sex Toys And Aging
People often ask us if there are sex toys that are good for certain kinds of people. But neither sex toys, nor people, work that way. When it comes to what turns us on, we're all a little bit different, so despite what the books on sex over 60 may say, there aren't toys that are made for people over 60 any more than there are toys made for people in their 20s (other than the packaging, which is often geared to specific age groups).
What's most important is that you have an idea of how your body is working, and then find a toy that will help you explore your sexual response.
So, for example, if you know that you get tired easily, you might want to consider a lighter weight vibrator.
If you find that your body doesn't get as wet as you want it to, even when you're turned on, you should consider using a good quality water based lubricant.
For some people, their sensitivity to stimulation will change as they get older, and they may need stronger more consistent stimulation to get over the top. In this case you might want to consider a vibrator with a higher intensity rating (say something 4 or higher).
Remember, there are no rules to what will or won't work for you. It's all in the experimentation (but the good news is that the homework is fun!) We don't think anyone needs sex toys to learn more about their sexual selves, but as ardent fans of sex toys, we think they can be a fun way to do some research.